GREEN campaigners are petitioning civic leaders to charge privately-owned diesel cars which enter the city, in a bid to lower pollution.

Clean Air Southampton (CAS), along with the local Friends of the Earth (FOE) group, want the local authority’s proposed clean air zone to bill the most polluting cars that drive into the city.

This would mean the council adopting a Class D charging zone, which would target motorists who drive diesel cars registered more than three to four years ago and do not meet Euro-6 emission standards, as well as commercial vehicle.

Liz Batten (pictured) of CAS said that this zone would give the city a better chance of lowering pollution than just having a Class B commercial vehicle charging zone – which is proposed by the council.

Speaking at a public clean air meeting, held in Ordnance Road, she said: “If your expectation is this (Class B zone) will lower the air pollution in Southampton, then you’re mistaken. It won’t do that.”

Asked to clarify her comments, Liz said after the meeting: “If a Class D zone was favoured by the council then a public discussion would be held to determine what those charges would be, what exemptions would be granted, and the length of time that would be given for people to make such an adjustment.

“It would not mean that people would have to necessarily give up their cars, but would mean that they would have to stop driving diesel cars into town, or face paying a penalty charge.” But, speaking at the meeting, Labour council leader Chris Hammond (pictured) said that although the idea would help Southampton lower its emissions, central government ministers would “not sign-off” on the plans because they are not a “proportionate response” to the issue.

This, he said, was because the city is close enough to its “target levels” to not be judged to require a private car-charging zone.

However, he did not rule out an up to £100-a-day commercially-charging zone.

This comes as the authority has been tasked by central government to reduce its nitrogen dioxide amount to the EU-imposed level of below 40 micrograms per cubic air metre by 2020. It is currently 42 micrograms.

The city council is currently consulting on plans to impose a clean air zone in the city.

To take part in the consultation, which ends on Thursday, September 13, visit: